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Southeastern University Launches Trades Program to Enhance the Local Offerings

June 14, 2023 News

Polk County offers a plethora of opportunities for training in the trades. There is everything from critical jobs like aircraft maintenance to life-style specialities like cosmetology.  

Polk State College has led the way for more than 50 years and even increased its ability to train students when it opened its Corporate College in 2014,  

“Access to quality certification and short-term workforce training programs is a critical component to ensuring our higher education institutions not only meet the workforce needs of today, but also the growing demand and jobs of tomorrow,” said Angela Garcia Falconetti. President of Polk State College.  

Now, Southeastern University is launching a trades program to help supply the talent pipeline so businesses can hire locally.  

Traviss and Ridge technical colleges also offer degrees and certificates in the trades.  

Southeastern University

The Lakeland university will begin offering SEU Trades in fall 2023. The new program is designed to train students in several different trades. This includes construction technology, HVAC, event production, project management, plumbing and electrical fields.  

“Skilled trade professions are essential to our way of life. They are vital to thriving communities,” said provost and chief academic officer Meghan Griffin. “We gravitate toward new frontiers such as AI, robotics and genomic medicine. However, the future is predicated on the foundational professions — power, air conditioning and plumbing — that keep it all running. Those jobs are in high demand and will not be replaced by technology.” 

In the coming years, workforce shortages are projected in several trade professions. For instance, in the next five years, there will be a shortage of 225,000 people to fill air conditioning, heating and refrigeration (ACHR) jobs, according to 

SEU Trades will aim to meet industry needs. It will offer skilled labor programs combined with a traditional college curriculum, apprenticeships and mentoring. Students will learn on the job, for the most part; traditional courses will be focused on their chosen field.  

It will offer degree programs and certificates in Lakeland as well as at partner sites and online. 

“Students will be introduced to skills through virtual simulations and then practice them in apprenticeships with mentors,” Griffin said. 

Pending approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, SEU Trades will initially offer a Bachelor of Science in Construction Technology, an Associates of Applied Science in Construction Technology, and minors in event production, project management and construction technology. In January 2024, it will also offer HVAC, plumbing and electrical programs, pending approval. 

Students can complete paid internships while working toward their degrees. “Our vision with SEU Trades is to provide an environment that will train and develop the whole individual. This will allow them to be ‘work ready,’ productive and a valuable asset to wherever they are employed,” said Glenn Barnard, professor and executive director of SEU Trades. 

Polk State College 

Students at Polk State can earn certificates and Applied Technology Diplomas (ATDs) in less than 60 credit hours. They can do so by taking courses that are part of an associate degree program, leading to employment in a specific occupational field. The college offers 26 certificate programs. The programs range from Emergency Medical Technician to video production and four vocational certificate programs that include Law Enforcement and Basic Training. 

 “Polk State is proud to serve approximately 9,000 individuals annually in workforce training programs that provide them with the skills for in-demand, high-wage careers as well as the opportunity to build on their credentials through stackable certifications and credits toward associate degree programs,” Falconetti said.   

At its Corporate College, workforce training is offered through 10 institutes: Advanced Manufacturing, Child Care Training, College Alliance for Advanced Manufacturing, Construction, Machining, Contractor Safety Training, Insurance, IT/Computer, Professional Development and Real Estate. 

Traviss and Ridge Technical Colleges

Polk County Public Schools offers adult students a chance to find their own path to a career through its Polk Education Pathways program. At Traviss Technical College and Ridge Technical College, students can pick from more than a dozen programs.  

For instance, Traviss in Lakeland offers everything from Building Trades & Construction Design and cosmetology to electricity technician and welding technology. 

Ridge in Winter Haven offers everything from diesel technician and drafting to plumbing and medical assisting. 

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